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Dirge on Tolmen Stone

Tolmen! Thy glory's gone,
Thy grandeur is no more,
No longer lost thou stand
Majestic as of yore.

On that exalted crest,
Thy head was raised on high,
The winters' storms and blasts
Thou proudly didst defy.

Through countless centuries
Unsolved the mystery:
No speech no language e'er
Made known thy history.

Dumb the geologist,
The antiquarian,
Thy swan song may I sing

On to thy dizzy top
With ladder did I climb
And wonderingly beheld
The hollows scooped by Time.

Defiant didst thou stand
With thy expanded chest,
From far couldst thou be seen,
The Pride of Cornwall West.

On two small granite rocks
Fantastically perched;
'Tween these I stood beneath,
In vain thy secret searched.

'Twixt these sustaining rocks
Oft did I clamber through,
Thy giant weight above,
Yet naught had I to rue.

When weird Tregeagle stalked the land
Throughout the west Countrie,
From Tintagel to Lizard Point,
Was his shade known to thee?

When fairies danced at Merry Meet
In ancient Constantine,
From Pixies' Hall turned they their feet

As to foregather round thy seat,
Or worship at thy shrine?

In times when Centauri held sway,
Thou monarch of them all;
But no perfidious Nestor thou,
No Hercules wrought thy fall.

Down through uncounted aeons
Unchanged was thy sway;
Did poet e'er invoke the Muse
Thy wonders to portray?

But men of nineteenth century born,
Cast longing eyes on thee:
Six hundred tons of granite stone,
Good value did they see.

Then to himself said he who held
Of mineral rights the fee:
"These granite rocks are worth an whole
King's ransom now to me."

No doubt that for certain sum
These rights lie would forego;
Now Cornishmen these terms will ye
Accept? Say "Yes" or "No."

Hear Constantine and Falmouth too,
Heed Helston and Penryn;
On these conditions would he cede
His Interest therein.

Alas! From Truro to Penzance
Comes no responsive word;
The doom of Tolmen soon was sealed,
Faint protest was there heard.

A bas! All sentiment,
All hail material gain!
We count thy worth in good hard cash,
We nineteenth century men.

Antiquity and mystery,
Mythology and history,
The halo that encircled thee,
The reverence that was due to thee,
All ruthlessly ignored.

Down deep into the quarry rolled,
By jumper, borer, wert thou holed,
That thou for profit might be sold,
Thus mercilessly bored.

From thy proud pedestal o'erthrown,
By pick, and mallet, chisel, hewn,
Shaped into many blocks of stone!
Then borne to other lands and climes,

A sacrifice to dollars, dimes
Of these materialistic times!
Some humble place thy fragments fill
In distant lands or near;
But where they are, and what they do,
And what their final destiny too,
There's no one seems to care.

Cornubia! Cornubia!
Thy Stupor we bewail;
In visions of the future thou
Didst miserably fait.

Tolmen! Inglorious was thy fall
From thy sublime estate;
But while life's lamp holds out to burn,
One son of Constantine will mourn
Thy ignominious fate.

JAS. ROBERTS (Reproduced by kind permission of Phyllis Nicholls, poet's grand-niece)